Anne-Louise has made it her mission to prove that sustainable investments are profitable investments. Consequently, she has founded two unique concepts within sustainable and impact investing: 1) SDG Invest is the first global, sustainable equity investment fund in Europe, that uses the SDGs as a proactive tool to invest in listed large cap. 2) The Global Impact Club (GIC) is a network of families that want to co-inspire, co-educate and co-invest in impact cases and programmes. Anne-Louise advises investors on and screens impact investments using her global experience, best practices and knowledge from networking with experts and like-minded peers. She brings more than 20 years of sustainability experience from a variety of countries and sectors and has a Master’s in communication and economics. Anne-Louise has worked as Head of Sustainability and International Development at PwC, Denmark, and sits on various boards and advisory committees.
Anne-Louise, we are delighted to be welcoming you to this year’s Youth Global Forum and excited to have you share your knowledge, advice and experience with the participants. Please share with us a short introduction about yourself, your career and areas of expertise.
For the past 20 years I have been working with sustainable business development, in a number of countries and across various sectors. I have lived in Zimbabwe for more than ten years, were I advised the UN and international programmes targeting business development in Southern Africa. Six years ago, I returned to Denmark to become Head of Sustainability and International Development at PwC Denmark, where I advised global companies on a broad set of sustainability issues and business development and participated in the global team in PwC driving sustainable thought leadership, where I was part of the business task force working with the development of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
My work with sustainable business development took a turn some years ago, when I started to train family offices in sustainability and sustainable financial management. Quickly, we realized that there was a large gap in the market when it came to sustainable financial products which were more ambitious than the ones being offered by traditional financial institutions, who mostly offered negative ESG screenings (Environmental, social and governance). We therefore founded SDG Invest and the GIC, which target different areas of sustainable investments. At SDG Invest, we invest in large cap companies, who have the ability and resources to change their sector and become a sustainable global leader, while the GIC targets small start-ups which innovate and create new sustainable solutions, primarily for the developing market. For both solutions I utilize my vast experience working with business development on the ground in developing markets, and my knowledge of sustainable business strategies at the global level.
What is it about impact investment and sharing your knowledge with the younger generation that excites you?
Impact and sustainable investments are the most influential way to change things and move the world in a more sustainable direction. Becoming a conscious and active investor is without a doubt the way which you as a private person can contribute the most to solving global challenges. To share my knowledge and engage with the younger generation on impact investments is one of my primary agendas. I believe that the younger generation cares and understand the global challenges, and therefore they are the ones who will eventually solve global issues, such as climate change, inequality, and environmental degradation. Therefore, I see it as part of my mission to develop and inform young people about how they can invest their private wealth in a more sustainable future, both in terms of their own economic situation and the planet and humanity.
Without giving too much away, would you give us a few clues as to which particular areas you will focus on during your masterclass?
Drawing on real-life cases from my work with the Global Impact Club (GIC) and my time working with business start-ups in Africa, I will outline the current challenges and opportunities that exist between social impact investors and social start-ups, as well as what it will take to solve these gaps. I will explain the global challenges and the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for social impact investing, common errors often made by social start-ups, and why a social start-up should not be treated differently than any other company, insight into the thoughts and drive behind global impact investors and lastly how to screen an impact investment.
Are there any lessons that participants can expect to gain from your masterclass on “Social Investment: Gaps and Opportunities in Emerging Markets” that might help them in their future endeavors?
Much as the areas which I will cover during the masterclass, these are the learning objectives and the goal of my masterclass:
- To understand the global challenges and the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for impact investing
- To gain insights into common errors often made by impact start-ups, and why an impact start-up should not be treated differently than any other company, you want to invest in
- Gain insight into the thoughts and drive behind global impact investors
- A guide on how to screen a social impact investment
What advice can you offer in advance to Youth International Summer School participants before attending your masterclass?
- Reflect on how you believe that you can have the most impact on society and the planet
- If you have a pension scheme or other investments, investigate the investment policy of your pension fund/bank/Investment manager. Do they have a sustainable investment policy? And does it align with your own personal belief of what ‘constitute’ sustainable? Why/Why not?
- Watch the TEDx talk “Why social impact startups are set up to fail” by Clara Brenner and put it into the context of emerging markets, by watching the TED talk “Why it’s too hard to start a business in Africa – and how to change it” by Magatte Wade.
Photos: From the archive of Anne-Louise Thon Schur